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2020-2021 — Marilyn Zaret, Moderator

"You are at your very best when things are [at their] worst," a quote from the movie "Starman," describes our Garden Club during the past two years. Always an engaging place to share ideas, nurture friendships and celebrate beauty, this group had to suddenly shift all programs to a virtual world. Open Gardens became our safe and social gathering place. As the pandemic caused travel plans and cultural events to shut down, we saw a significant rise in attendance from those who were happily grounded, at least for our garden parties.


Cheryl Slutzky joined Provisionals Virginia Woo and Anna Lee in treating their neighborhood to July's Fernwood Avenue Stroll. Brigitte Padberg surprised us with a terraced rock mountain that she had assembled by hand over 20 years and Deborah Hirsch's 1880 Victorian Craftsman home staged a fairy tale setting with Cynthia Corhan-Aitken's expertise. Our Members met Provisional Kathryn Bachmann when she showcased her family's COVID-19 project — a new raised swimming pool — where we watched a video of the process on an outdoor television. September wrapped the season as I shared my own COVID-19 project, a 25-foot-high rustic archway, designed by Chuck Baum and made possible by Susan Yu's bamboo stalks.


Now in transition as pandemic warnings are waning and schedules fill up, Open Gardens will continue to adapt and welcome all formats and ideas to accommodate past and future hosts from our amazing Garden Club, along with their families and friends.


Open Gardens Reports

2020-2021 — Marilyn Zaret, Moderator

If there ever was a challenge to the Open Gardens Program, it was the summer of 2020. While our Club’s programs and meetings continued through Zoom technology, it looked like doom for our special garden parties.


However, this challenge was met in mid-July when Florence Leyssène offered her garden to reunite our members. Masked guests poured in and stayed for hours to admire this botanical paradise, and to look over the photos of her thirty year process.


October was my chance to embrace a Halloween theme in my own garden featuring costumed mannequins. We even invited families to join us from nearby Anderson Park. With an Opener and Closer, the summer of 2020 was a memorable one.


Travel bans continued in 2021 and attendance increased as many newcomers joined the faithful regulars. In early May, Brigitte Padberg opened her garden to share her personal monument of multiple terraces and paths composed of the rocks she rearranged on her steep hill 30 years ago. Lucky climbers were treated to a Manhattan skyline view.


Tova Narrett hosted her third party in four years with a Victorian venue of white blossoms while her daffodil field went dormant. In June we entered through a white picket fence to the fairy tale scene of Deborah Hirsch’s 1870 Gothic Carpenter home. With the help of Cynthia Corhan-Aiken, this cottage garden was transformed into a year round charmer and had over 60 delighted guests.


This program has survived and thrived during this past year with its 20th Open Garden event and exceptionally high attendance as the pandemic winds down. I am overwhelmed by success and grateful to the hosts and the hundreds of exceptional people who came together during the challenges of 2020 and 2021.


2019-2020 — Marilyn Zaret, Moderator

Open Gardens, an idea born from the pleas of our Membership to see the magic behind our fellow gardeners' workshops, celebrated its second successful year with eight beautiful venues open during the warm months.


Open Gardens provides a platform of creativity by and for our members. All are encouraged to share their personal spaces and vision. Yet it seemed natural to branch out and include our neighbors, families, and friends. Gardens of all sizes and styles were showcased to crowds that ranged from 20 to 50 per event, likely reaching hundreds of exuberant guests through the season.


Several gracious hosts found the experience so gratifying that half of those from the previous year signed up for an encore. In fact, some were invited to participate in the 2019 Van Vleck "Roses to Rock Gardens" tour which made the experience even more precious to our Club to have first dibs.


As moderator, I've opened my own garden and will do so again. I have found the greatest joy in the Club's response to this simple idea, particularly with the gracious hosts whom I regard as my revolving committee: Tova Narrett, Nancy Stroud, Maureen Sprong, Cynthia Corhan-Aitken, Barbara Meyer, Denise Silverman, Karen and Larry Whitehaus, Victoria Herrera, Stacie Gray, Sarah Olson, and Bob Chapman, who met Florence Sinofsky at his own Open Garden event, only to co-host again, his new wife at his side.

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